Match report: Bristol 27 Doncaster Knights 39

Latu Makaafi is in double figures on the scoring charts after the Knights' win over Bristol
Latu Makaafi is in double figures on the scoring charts after the Knights' win over Bristol

The Knights sensationally toppled Championship leaders Bristol to claim their first ever league win over the Ashton Gate outfit on Friday night.

Clive Griffiths’ third-placed side – who welcomed back Declan Cusack and Matt Challinor from lengthy lay-offs – took home a bonus point win and, even more remarkably, left their hosts empty handed.

Fears that Bristol would overturn a half time deficit, as they did last season, when a 69th minute penalty levelled the scores at 24-24 were allayed as wing Dougie Flockhart and replacement hooker Vili Veikoso bagged late tries.

Knights got off to the worst possible start when centre Jack Tovey crossed for a second minute converted try.

But, showing the character which has stood them in good stead this season, they hit back with a try by leading scorer Latu Makaafi from a catch and drive ploy.

Knights deservedly took a 14-7 lead in the 17th minute when strong-running centre Will Hurrell broke the line before sending wing Tyson Lewis over for a second converted try with a floated pass.

There was more joy for Knights on the half-hour when Makaafi took his tally for the season into double figures from another catch and drive routine.

Bristol gave Knights a taste of their own medicine when hooker Ross McMillan touched down from a driving maul – Gavin Henson’s conversion cutting the deficit to just seven points,

A long-range penalty by Flockhart secured Knight a 24-14 interval lead.

Bristol scrum-half Will Cliff spotted half a gap from a ruck in the Doncaster 22 and scoring near enough for Henson to convert within five minutes of the restart.

The Knights’ three point lead looked slender when Makaafi was sin-binned for a high tackle but Bristol could not capitalise.

Bristol: Wallace: Varndell, Tovey, Moses, Edwards; Henson, Cliff; O’Connell, McMillan, Cortes, Joyce, Townson, Phillips, Robinson, Smid. Rep: Crumpton, Genge, Perenise, Sorenson, Ovens, Hampson, Morgan.

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis; Cusack, Edgerley; List, Hunter, Quigley, Challinor, Phelan, Makaafi, Hills, Shaw. Rep: Bergmanas, Veikoso, John, Hotson, Young, Olver, Field.